Service at Grana
Research and service quality analysis for a growing fashion startup.
Tasked with conducting a service quality analysis of any company, we chose to turn classwork into a chance to meet and work with a local startup, Grana. Together with the co-founder we created a service analysis for class and customer loyalty monitoring tools for the company.
Grana sells quality, timeless clothing through their online shop. We were curious to see how a product-oriented company would fare in the service realm, so we gave Grana a thorough and critical review.
We worked directly with Grana’s team, who were generous enough to grant us thorough interviews about their work, and give us access to their customers for our survey. Through this, we attained a professional, and highly realistic view of the company’s activities and customer perspectives. Our study reveals a few potential weaknesses, and an otherwise satisfied and engaged customer base.
Immersing ourselves in Grana’s service.
Aiming to understand the role service plays in Grana’s success, we designed a comprehensive research plan using multiple methodologies. All four team members purchased clothing and tested the return experience personally. We interviewed Grana’s customer service team, as well as its co-founder and COO. We reviewed the service quality in other online fashion shops for benchmarking. And finally, we worked directly with the company to run a customer survey.
A survey people will actually answer.
We derived survey questions from the questions in the SERVQUAL and E-S-Qual frameworks, but made dramatic changes to the wording so they would sound like something a Grana employee might actually say.
We divided our list into four individual surveys based on the customer lifecycle phase they addressed. Each of the four surveys was sent by Grana to circa 85 customers, together we collected 55 valid responses.
Summary of Findings
Grana’s service quality is assessed here on the basis of the SERVQUAL framework, which names reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy and tangibles as key dimensions of effective service.
Reliability is Grana’s most important dimension, and is composed of an accessible and easy to use website, punctual and accurate delivery, convenient access to customer contact persons, as well as the availability of popular clothing sizes and styles, all underlined by its customer service representatives. Our assessment finds Grana’s website to be on par with global standards but threatened by small bugs that can frustrate users and deter them from buying. Grana’s service team is consistently available and fulfills its promises. Customers rate Grana’s delivery positively, yet the company is vulnerable to the effectiveness of its logistics partners here. Product availability is Grana’s weakest point. Customers want to see a bigger product catalog and are frustrated that popular sizes are out of stock.
Online retail has set high benchmarks for responsiveness. With effective order and fulfillment processes in place, and quick customer service representatives, Grana is on par with global standards. However, it lacks order and shipping confirmation emails to give customers the impression of responsiveness during opaque parts of the service process.
Personalized thank you notes, and support messages written in the service team’s own voice have lead to customers' overall positive perception of the brand.
While customers generally trust Grana, assurance may nonetheless be an important factor contributing to and hindering customer conversion, when it comes to product sizing. Customers investing in shipping costs want to be sure that they are ordering clothes in the right size and fit, and customers currently don’t believe that to be the case.
Grana invests a lot of effort into providing empathy through personalized service and is getting high marks here. Personalized thank you notes, and support messages written in the service team’s own voice have lead to customers' overall positive perception of the brand.
Grana’s tangibles—its website, pop-up shops and packaging—set the tone for customers’ perception of their service. It’s website is easy-to-use, its pop-up shops are on-brand and functional, and the Grana Box packaging is friendly and exciting to unpack. Still, Grana can put added effort into ensuring the tangibles guide customers through each step of their service encounter.
Grana customers are loyal to the business and are highly satisfied by its service and product quality. However, the company is still vulnerable and needs to perform impeccably to support the degree of growth they are aiming toward. Based on customers’ feedback, input from Grana’s personnel, and personal observation, the team compiled the following recommendations:
1. Returns and exchanges
Customer expectations are not in line with Grana’s return policy. To remedy this, it can make its policies more visible and easier to read in the site design. It can also offer free shipping for first purchases as a promotion or ongoing offer.
2. Service standardization
As it grows, Grana needs to find a balance between standardization and personalization. To this end, it can set standards on topics such as compensation for mistakes and basic procedures, without defining style and tone. Additionally, it should carefully hire its cheetahs to ensure personality match.
3. Sizing information
Accurate sizing information will help Grana to close more sales. Providing a diversity of information, that is easily consumable, such as images of different sized people wearing different-sized clothes could be effective.
Delivery is a core part of Grana’s service, but the company has little direct control over it
4. Delivery management
Delivery is a core part of Grana’s service, but the company has little direct control over it. It must therefore choose its provider carefully, and inform customers of the processes to the extent that it can.
5. Stock management
With some sizes and colors frequently going out of stock, Grana can allow customer to sign-up for an update when they come back.
Beyond its less structured listening activities, Grana can make use of the surveys developed for this study to monitor fluctuations of customer satisfaction over time. Further complimenting this by studying email and website conversion analytics to optimize the service process.
Service strategy and research
Lu Huang, Stewart Zhao, and Kitty Lam
Hong Kong Polytechnic University